Hey, Mister, Wanna Date – or a Truck?

April 21, 2007

Political correctness be damned. Modern China’s founder, Mao Zedong may have promised a truly egalitarian society, but today’s increasingly capitalistic Chinese have discovered what the West long knew: sex sells. And they seem to have foregone that limiting discipline that has tamed and toned down most U.S. and European auto shows, political correctness.

For first-timers in Shanghai, some advice: forget the Mao suit. Skin is in, especially at the Shanghai Motor Show, where virtually every manufacturer is draping its latest offering in rich, luxurious model flesh. Roewe, the subsidiary of SAIC reborn from the ashes of Britain’s Rover Group, staged a full-length fashion show before the debut of its less eye-catching W2 Concept. Over at MG, the Nanjing Auto subsidiary also born from Rover, models readily and willingly posed seductively for press photographers – and anyone else with a camera.

Most of the young women hail from Northern China, in a region known for its great beauty – apparently the result of some interesting intermingling, over the centuries, between native Chinese and nearby Russians. Speak of the “great friendship between two great countries,” as goes the plaque on a monument to Chinese/Russian cooperation in old Shanghai. But there were also plenty of Western models and often in the most revealing garb, it seemed.

But no one was more in-your-face with the sex-as-sales-tool approach as FAW, the domestic Chinese auto giant. In the vast courtyard between East and West convention halls, it effectively stopped traffic by posing a bevy of scantily clad American models – including one young man in a cowboy hat – in front of its big trucks. The effect was hooker gothic, and a huge attention-getter for FAW’s otherwise unexciting products.

It’s intriguing to see that in the decades since the Cultural Revolution roiled through China, instilling a new era of conservatism, the Asian nation is now under the control of the Gang of Porn.

Read more of TheCarConnection.com’s Shanghai auto show coverage

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